Justice for Nature
Prior to the 1980’s, there was a long felt need for an organization solely dedicated to safeguarding Sri Lanka’s environment. The idea was stumbled upon by a group of friends – four law students, a budding zoologist, anthropologist, accountant, mathematician, and an actress – who would regularly band together to protest against the misuse and abuse of the country’s natural resources, and spearheaded campaigns to protect the environment through litigation. Thus, in 1981 the Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) was born and later incorporated under the Companies Act as (Guarantee) Limited.
Following its first legal case in the Supreme Court, EFL has handled over 200 cases, achieving significant victories in many cases such as the Eppawala Phosphate Case, the Kandalama Hotel Case and the Galle Face Green Case. Two critical cases handled by EFL also include the Air Pollution Case, where EFL convinced Sri Lanka’s government to make vehicle emissions testing mandatory as well as the Case on the Protection of Wetland Ecosystems, which resulted in a halt in the filling of the Muthurajawala Wetland, and initiated the establishment of the National Wetlands Policy. EFL was also an intervenient party in two noteworthy Supreme Court cases; the Maha Oya Sand Mining Case and the Noise Pollution Case, which have both concluded successfully.
As an organisation that started out small, inclusive of seven years of voluntary work, during which EFL operated from the garage of one of its motivated and dedicated founding members, EFL has now become an organisation reputed to be responsible for key breakthroughs in the protection of Sri Lanka’s natural environments, influencing policy and legislature and fostering a sense of environmental stewardship among the citizens of Sri Lanka.
A Future in Sustainable Development
Sri Lanka is now on a path of ambitious development goals. Therefore we must also keep in mind that economic development is supported and sustained by natural ecosystems and the goods and services from them. Our ecosystems also harbour unique and irreplaceable biodiversity that have evolved over millennia, and this is part of our heritage. EFL’s role is to ensure that this biological heritage is also conserved as part of the national economic development plans.
Eric Wikramanayake, Ph.D